How to Get Takeout Safely During COVID-19

COVID-19 may have us eating in — but that doesn’t mean we have to cook every meal.

Restaurants across the country are limited to takeout and delivery only in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19 — but is it even safe to order takeout during this time? For the most part, yes – but take a look at these tips to help you enjoy your favorite meals at home while keeping your family extra safe.

Is It Safe to Eat Takeout During Coronavirus?

There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted through food or food packaging, according to the USDA, CDC, and FDA. Typically, the virus is thought to be spread through respiratory droplets. Additionally, if you touch a surface with infected droplets on it and then touch your nose, mouth, or eyes, that could lead to infection.

If you ordered something cold, for example, and the chef sneezed on it, there may be some risk. But if the food is handled properly, there shouldn’t be an issue.

If you are immunocompromised, or just want to be extra careful, you may want to consider ordering cooked food only (rather than uncooked foods like sandwiches or sushi). Cooking at high temperatures generally kills viruses and bacteria.

Safe food-handling rules will prevent the virus from spreading. This includes measures like wearing gloves, workers staying home when sick, frequent hand-washing, and disinfecting of surfaces in the kitchen.

In response to COVID-19, many restaurants and food delivery services are encouraging customers to take advantage of contactless delivery and takeout to minimize the chance of spreading the virus.

Tips for Takeout During Coronavirus

Rather than worry about the food itself, keep social distancing and surface sanitization in mind when you order takeout. Follow these simple steps to help keep you and your family safe:

  • Get rid of packaging: Remove the food from its takeout bag or containers as soon as you bring it in the house into your own containers. Remember to handle delivery containers separately from your containers to prevent cross-contamination. Discard the delivery containers after emptying them including the bags or boxes they were delivered. Don’t forget to wipe counters and other surfaces where you unpacked the food.
  • Pay (and tip) in advance. If possible, tip online to avoid giving out cash. This helps to minimize person-to-person interaction with the driver or restaurant workers.
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer. Before and after handling takeout containers, you should wash your hands or rub in hand sanitizer for at least 20 seconds — and again before you eat.
  • Use your own utensils: Or wash disposable utensils if not pre-packaged with soap and water before using.
  • Store any leftovers in your own containers. Putting takeout containers in the fridge could contaminate the surface it’s coming in contact with if it contains traces of the virus.

Lastly, order directly from the restaurant when possible. Choosing an in-house delivery or pick up option over a third-party app means one less person handling your food and its packaging. If a restaurant doesn’t offer delivery, pick your food up before or after peak hours to avoid crowds.

Talk with a physician at your nearby Valleywise Community Health Center to learn more about takeout during coronavirus or call 1-833-VLLYWSE to schedule an appointment.



About the Author

Dan Quan, DO - Emergency Medicine

Dr. Quan is a board-certified Emergency Physician and Medical Toxicologist at District Medical Group, practicing at Valleywise Health. He is a Clinical Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix and Creighton University. Currently he serves as the acting chairman of the department of emergency medicine at Valleywise Health.

Read more posts by Dan Quan, DO  Browse all topics

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